October 14, 2011
Drabinsky to stay behind bars
By Michele Mandel, QMI Agency

Garth Drabinsky (QMI Agency file photo)

TORONTO -- Former theatre impresario Garth Drabinsky has finally run out of "Get of Jail Free" cards and must remain behind bars while he attempts to appeal his fraud convictions to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Ontario Court of Appeal Justice David Doherty said it would not be in the "public interest" for the convicted fraudster to be released yet again pending another appeal.

Free on bail for the last two years, Drabinsky, 61, only began serving his five-year sentence last month after the appeal court refused to overturn his 2009 fraud convictions.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Mary Lou Benotto had found Drabinsky and his former Livent co-founder Myron Gottlieb guilty of manipulating financial statements between 1993 and '98 so unwitting investors and major banks would pour more than $500 million into the struggling production company behind Ragtime and The Phantom of the Opera. She sentenced Drabinsky to seven years in prison, and Gottlieb to six.

While the appeal court last month upheld those convictions, calling the evidence against Drabinsky "overwhelming," it did reduce their sentences by two years.

After just a month in prison, Drabinsky was asking for bail again while he tries to take his case to the nation's highest court. Lawyer Edward Greenspan argued Tuesday that Drabinsky should be released from Millhaven Institution pending his appeal because he's not a flight risk and their case is "not frivolous."


Doherty disagreed.

"In my view, the appellant has not shown that his release is in the public interest," he said in his decision released Friday. "Where an accused is convicted of a serious crime and sentenced to a significant jail term, public confidence in the effective operation of the justice system must suffer if years go by before the accused serves that sentence."

The judge also said it was "not likely" that Drabinsky's case will even get to Ottawa. "Nothing in the material presented on this application points to any feature of this case which would suggest that it is likely that the Supreme Court will grant leave in this case," Doherty wrote.

Gottlieb remains in prison and has not filed any plans to appeal.

michele.mandel@sunmedia.ca